(1949)2.5Craig ButlerFred Astaire and Ginger Rogers went out with a bang in The Barkleys of Broadway, and if it's not the big explosion that they deserved, it's still more than serviceable. Barkleys' biggest assets, of course, are the stars themselves, who have lost none of their luster or, more importantly, their chemistry despite the ten years separating Barkleys from their earlier classics. Indeed, for those who simply want to watch this incomparable pair and do not care about the vehicle, there is plenty to relish: the incomparable way in which they bicker, the ease with which they fall back into each other's arms, a delightfully outlandish Scottish pastiche, a sparkling swing trot to open the proceedings, a typically brilliant Astaire solo with a half-dozen pairs of dancing shoes, and a graceful, sensuous, slightly melancholic "They Can't Take That Away From Me." These elements pack a great deal of punch; whether they pack enough to make up for Betty Comden and Adolph Green's so-so screenplay is another question. Part of the problem is that the basic setup -- musical comedy star attempts a bio of Sarah Bernhardt -- is the kind of situation that Comden and Green are so adept at spoofing, but they're asked to play it straight here. They can't quite do it, so there's always a hint that the situation is going to turn satirical, but it never does -- though the audition sequence does become unintentionally funny. Still, fans of the stars will definitely find the film's flaws to be minor, and even those who feel more strongly about those flaws will probably be won over by this last pairing of the cinema's greatest dance team.